|-5 ARIZ (-112) @ pinnacle|
6 of 6 Experts (100%) with a pick against the spread are aligned. 9* play on the Arizona Wildcats (Spread).
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These two teams met last weekend in Tucson, and the Huskies upset Arizona, 69-63. That also was Washington's 2nd straight upset win on the road. We'll fade the Huskies in this Pac-12 Tourney game, as teams off two road upset wins have cashed just 38% in the Conference Tourneys over the past 30 years, if they were matched up against an opponent off a SU loss.
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Is it really true that Washington was once ranked in the Top 25 this season? I swear that it is! The Huskies even opened their season by beating Baylor. They got as high as #21 in the polls before the “bottom dropped out” and that “bottom” just so happened to be “conference play.” Going into last week, UW was just 3-13 SU vs. the rest of the Pac 12 and two of those victories came back in January. Two wins last week are not enough to convince me that this team is ready to make a move in the conference tournament.
Arizona can be prone to some truly awful shooting nights. But I believe this team is MUCH better than its 5th place regular season finish in the Pac 12 would seem to indicate. There’s a case to be made that on any given night the Wildcats are as good as any team in the league. Even though they underachieved and (like Washington) are no longer ranked, I still consider Arizona as a Top 20 team and a real “darkhorse” in the NCAA Tournament.
This is a revenge spot for the Wildcats, who dropped the regular season finale (at home) to Washington by a score of 68-62. They went into that game as 10-pt chalk. It was one of their “bad shooting nights” as they finished just 35.1% from the field despite shooting a reasonable percentage from 3-point range. Still a top 15 team in defensive efficiency, I’ll call for the Wildcats to shoot the ball MUCH better from inside the arc here. I can’t see Washington pulling a third straight upset after going 1-10 SU its previous 11 games.
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Sean Miller began his 10th season as the Arizona head coach during the 2018–2019 season but Arizona ended the season 17−15, missing the NCAA tournament for only the SECOND time in the previous 34 seasons. Miller's 11th season at Arizona featured a top-5 recruiting class and the Wildcats were ranked No. 21 in the AP's preseason. The Wildcats opened the season 9-0 and had the look of a team that could go far in the NCAA Tournament but inconsistent play has resulted in an 11-11 record since. Arizona finished 10-8 in Pac 12 play and enter the tourney as the No. 5 seed.
Mike Hopkins spent more than 20 years as an assistant to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, before taking the job at Washington for the 2017-18 season. His first team won 21 games and an NIT berth but last year's team won 27 games and earned an NCAA bid. However, FOUR starters are gone from that team, including three NBA draft picks. That's never good but Hopkins recruited a pair of McDonald's All-Americans (big men Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels) plus added a third with the transfer of guard Quade Green from Kentucky. However, after a 10-2 start, the Huskies' season imploded. Quade Green was ruled academically ineligible after a Jan 5 win against USC and Washington has gone 4-12 without him.
The Huskies lost NINE straight from Jan 18-Feb 20 but they won their first two conference road games of the season last weekend in Arizona (over the Sun Devils and Wildcats) and have won three of four since that nine-game losing streak. 6-9 freshman Stewart (16.6 & 8.7) and McDaniels (13.1 & 5.8) have been as good as advertised. Stewart was named to the Pac-12 first team on Monday and McDaniels is the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after he averaged 18 points, six rebounds, 2.5 blocks and a steal in last weekend's state of Arizona sweep. Senior guard Carter (12.5 & 5.0) is the team's third double digit scorer plus sophomore guard Jamal Bey went 16-for-17 from the free-throw line and totaled 23 points in the sweep of the Arizona schools, although his season average is just 5.8 PPG.
Arizona's 6-11 Zeke Nnaji was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after leading the conference with 14 double-doubles and leading the club in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (8.6). PG Nico Mannion, a 6-3 guard from Italy, was a second-team and all-freshmen team selection after averaging 14.0 PPG and 5.4 APG. He's already said he'll leave school after the season and he's projected to be an NBA lottery pick this summer. Josh Green, a 6-6 freshman guard, scored a total of 20 points in two games since missing two with a back injury, and enters the tourney averaging 11.7 & 4.6. That trio of freshman have led the way for Arizona but senior guard Smith (8.5) and 6-9 senior Gettings (6.7 & 4.2) have been regular contributors.
Marc Lawrence 10* CBB Conference Tourney Key Play! - Wednesday
Wildcats: 4-0 SUATS in this series when coming off a SU favorite loss; and 6-1 SUATS last three years in this tourney; and 3-1 SUATS In this tourney when entering off a SU favorite loss … Huskies: 0-4 SUATS versus conference foes coming off a SU favorite loss this season; and 0-4 SUAST in this tourney with a sub .500 win percentage when not seeking revenge.
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It was a clunker of a finish for Arizona which lost four of its last five games to fall to 10-8 in the Pac 12 and tumble down to the No. 5 seed in the tournament. Three of those losses were by five points or less and of the Wildcats eight losses, three came by exactly one point. Arizona has some immediate revenge to take care of as it lost to Washington on Saturday at home in the final regular season game. Assuming the Wildcats shoot the ball better in Vegas, they should cruise. Washington won its final two games of the season but could not climb out of the basement as it finished 5-13 that included a nine-game losing streak. Here, we play on favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points revenging a home loss against opponent off an upset win as a road underdog. This situation is 36-9 ATS (80 percent) over the last five seasons.
Steve Merril: CBB SPREAD SMASH
-Washington went just 15-16 SU during the regular season; off 2 straight upset wins; regression
-offense is averaging just 66.9 points per game away from home vs. defenses that allow 67.4 ppg
-Huskies defense has given up 72 points or more in 3 of their last 5 games; in poor current form
-Arizona comes in off an ugly home loss to tonight’s opponent as 10-point favorites; big effort
-offense averages 76.4 points per game vs. defenses that only allow 68.8 points per game
-Wildcats allowing 39.4% shooting from the field vs. offenses that shoot 44.2% from the field
Best of luck!
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